The Return of the Native by JAN JEZIORO

Classical guitar star Jason Vieaux comes back to town with his friends 

On Tuesday March 21th at 8pm the Buffalo Chamber Music Society (BCMS) will host the welcome return to Buffalo of the Grammy Award winning classical guitarist Jason Vieaux, along with the members of the Escher Quartet, in the Mary Seaton Room of Kleinhans Music Hall.

Jason Vieaux, a born and bred Buffalo guy, (he still recalls playing for the Friends of Vienna when he was only 13 years old) skyrocketed to the Olympian heights of the classical guitar stratosphere when he won the 2015 Grammy Award for best instrumentalist for his CD entitled “Play”. Of course, Jason Vieaux did not spring forth, armed and fully-formed, as the ancient Greek goddess of wisdom Athena did.  Rather, he had had a long, and highly appropriate apprenticeship, studying with, and learning from the best classical guitarists, while steadily building his own reputation, both as a teacher, and as a performer. Vieaux has taught at his alma mater, the Cleveland Institute of Music since 1997, and he was invited in 2011 to co-found the guitar department at the prestigious Curtis Institute of Music in Philadelphia, where he also still teaches. Vieaux’s passion for new music has fostered premieres of works by Avner Dorman, Dan Visconti, Vivian Fung, Keith Fitch, Kinan Abou-Afach, David Ludwig, Jerod Tate, Eric Sessler, José Luis Merlin, Jeff Beal, and Gary Schocker.

When Jason was reached by phone, he had just gotten to his hotel room in California, having speeded up his departure from Cleveland due to the anticipated late winter storm weather scheduled to sweep both the Midwest and the East Coast, so as not to miss his upcoming performance with the Stockton Symphony of Rodrigo’s ever-popular Concierto de Aranjuez.

As Jason explains, he is looking forward to his appearance next Tuesday on the BCMS with the Escher Quartet. “I’ve played with the guys in the Escher Quartet, five or ten times a season, for the last decade”, says Jason. “When you are lucky enough to be able perform with such a group of talented musicians over such a long period of time, you develop a rapport that enables you respond almost intuitively to the nuances of each other’s playing”.  The first half of Tuesday’s program will feature the critically acclaimed Escher Quartet performing the final quartet, the Quartet in E flat major, Op.76, No.6, from the last complete set of string quartets, by Joseph Haydn, the father of the string quartet genre. The group will also perform the rarely programed, at least in the US, String Quartet No.2 in C major, Op.36, by the 20th century British composer Benjamin Britten, a composer whose works the Escher Quartet has worked hard trying to establish in the standard repertoire. A highlight of the Escher’s last appearance on this series in 2013 was their performance of Brittens’s third string quartet.

After intermission, Vieaux will first perform three classic pieces for solo guitar that were featured on Play, his Grammy Award winning CD: Capricho Arabe, by Francisco Tarrega, Misionera by the Argentine composer Fernando Bustamente, and the infectiously seductive A Felicidade, by Antonio Carlos Jobim, the Brazilian composing genius who invented bossa nova. “These pieces from my CD have been works that I’ve lived with from my teenage years”, says Vieaux, “and that was one of the reasons that my producer, Alan Bise, and I wanted to include them on my CD “Play”, which was released to celebrate 20 years of concertizing”.

The members of the Escher Quartet will then join Jason Vieaux in a performance of Luigi Boccherini’s Guitar Quintet in D major, G.448 ‘Fandango’, the final quintet, from his only set of six guitar quintets. Boccherini, Italian by birth, was one of the finest cellists of the 18th century. While very successful in his native country, he moved to Spain, which was relatively something of a musical backwater for his love of the Spanish soprano, who later became his wife. A very prolific composer while attached to the Spanish court, he did not hesitate to tell off the king of Spain, who criticized one of his works for having “too many notes”, telling him that he was wrong, as the work had exactly the right number of notes. He was immediately fired, of course; but would that any of us had Boccherini’s chutzpah! While all the composer’s guitar quintets were adapted from works that he had composed for other instrumental combinations, I will wager that no member of the audience at this concert will not be completely caught up in the wonderfully infectious melodies of this work, and specifically in the irresistible Spanish rhythms of the work’s final fandango movement.

Tickets: $25; free admission for Middle/High School students. Information: www.bflochambermusic.or